French fries are a much-loved snack or side dish on most menus across the country. Although fries are one of the most popular ways to eat potatoes, they are also one of the worst.
Crispy, piping-hot fries are a tasty hit dish on many menus, but they can also be packed with excessive fat, sodium, and calories that can have negative effects on the body.
Some of the worst effects of French fries on the body are as follows:
1. Heart disease
Whether they're shoestring, steak cut, or regular, crispy hot fries are typically fried, or even sometimes double-fried. They’re tasty, but they can also be a nutritional nightmare — especially when cooked with oils laden with trans fats, saturated fat, cholesterol, and carbs.
Trans fat and saturated fat raise your "bad" cholesterol and lower your "good" cholesterol. A diet laden with trans fat increases your risk of clogged arteries and heart disease, the leading killer of adults.
2. Weight gain
While eating potatoes on a daily basis may be fine for lean people who exercise a lot or who do regular manual labour, for everyone else, all potatoes, in general, should be an occasional food consumed in modest amounts. Fried potato – i.e. french fries – increases levels of blood sugar and insulin quickly and to a high level.
Plus, french fries are a carbohydrate, and because carbs cause a spike in insulin levels and insulin makes you hungry, carbs cause you to eat more food. This then causes insulin levels to spike again, which causes fat growth as well as more hunger, which causes you to eat more, and so on and so forth.
Greasy, fried foods, such as french fries, have a tendency to slow movement through your digestive tract. These types of foods can bind you up and be a cause of constipation.
To add to the problem, french fries aren’t very high in fibre, which we need to speed food up as it passes through the body. High-calorie sauces can also make constipation worse.
4. High blood pressure
Fries are typically also heavy on salt, and excess sodium causes fluid retention that can increase blood pressure by creating a burden on the heart. Unfortunately, with the easily accessible American diet, studies have found that most people get more daily sodium than needed.
Too much sodium from foods like french fries can also increase the risk of stroke, heart failure, osteoporosis, stomach cancer, and kidney disease.
French fries can make you feel bloated as they linger in your stomach or your digestive tract for too long. As we already know, fries are lower in fibre, which takes them longer to digest – and this prolongs any digestive discomfort, including bloating.
Additionally, as fries are generally high in salt, they can cause your body to retain fluid, especially in the abdominal area.
6. Acne and early skin ageing
The high sodium and salt content in french fries dehydrates and causes temporary dulling of skin, while the high carbohydrate content makes it just as bad for wrinkles. Besides that, when you eat oily, greasy fries, there’s a chance you may leave oil debris around your mouth without even realizing it.
If that oil’s not washed away from your skin, it can clog your pores and cause breakouts all around your mouth.
7. Increased cancer risk
New evidence in animal studies suggests that regularly eating fried, browned or burnt foods—such as french fries – may increase the risk of cancer. This is because fries are typically high in acrylamide, which is formed naturally from chemical reactions in certain types of starchy foods, after cooking at high temperatures.
8. Energy drain
If you’ve ever eaten a heavy meal containing french fries and wanted to lie down for an immediate nap, there’s a reason for this. Fried foods like french fries will make you sleepy because your digestive system has to work harder than usual to process the fats in them.
Eating french fries before a workout of a long time on your feet is a particularly bad idea because you’ll find yourself drained of energy after an hour or two.
Just because french fries are bad for your body, it doesn’t mean you should hold a vendetta against potatoes in general. Potatoes on their own have nutritional benefits of fibre, vitamins and minerals, calcium, magnesium, and zinc.
They contain no cholesterol or fat and are high in fibre and potassium. It’s all about how you choose to consume them.
Save the high fat french fries for a treat, and when you’re craving potatoes, opt for a plain baked potato, herbed baby potatoes, or sweet potato mash. You could also consider cooking a lightened-up version of French fries using an air fryer or try making oven-baked or roasted.
Air fryers use hot air and a minimal amount of oil to quickly cook food with a fraction of the fat and calories. It’s easier than you think to get your potato fix while staying healthy!